Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Paralyzed man regains use of arms and hands after experimental stem cell therapy (usc.edu)
873 points by jpgvm on Jan 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 174 comments

The Australian of the Year (just announced yesterday, January 26th being our national day), was Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-26/the-amazing-work-of-pr...

He performed pioneering work taking a type of adult stem cell from the nose and showing how it can be be used for spinal repair. A polish paraplegic, Darek Fidyka, regained the ability to walk following surgery in 2014 using this research findings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darek_Fidyka

The paraplegic in question can now ride a bike! http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35660621

The former paraplegic in question can now ride a bike! http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35660621


The ones mentioned in the article seem to be embryonic stem cells.

This is very exciting. This type of work can even benefit people who aren't paralyzed — damaged cartilage can also be repaired this way.

When I ran track in college, I somehow developed focal cartilage defects in both knees. This brought my running career to a halt and made walking extremely painful for about a year. In an attempt to fix this, I had a type of surgery known as the OATS procedure performed. This is where the surgeon takes a plug of undamaged articular cartilage from a low load bearing region of the knee and swaps it with the damaged cartilage. Walking is mostly pain-free for me now, but it still hurts too much if I attempt to run.

As though one cartilage injury weren't enough, I somewhat stupidly decided to take up weight lifting after I couldn't run anymore and attempted to set down a barbell that was way too heavy for me. In doing so, I triggered a mild lower lumbar disc herniation. So now I have two permanent injuries. Luckily, neither injury is very severe, so some days I don't even notice the pain while other days it approaches mildly annoying "background noise".

These types of cartilage injuries are common, and arthritis is even more common. But the issue with cartilage is that once it's damaged, it doesn't heal on its own because cartilage has no vascular system. You can break all the bones you want and eventually they will heal, but damaged hyaline cartilage will not. The best that your body can do is to produce "low-quality" fibrocartilage in place of the damaged hyaline cartilage.

Fortunately, there's been a lot of research over the last decade on using mesenchymal stem cells (taken from your own bone marrow) to regrow true hyaline cartilage as opposed to fibrocartilage. The stem cells have actually been shown to differentiate into hyaline cartilage. For me, this has the potential to permanently alleviate both knee and back pain. Moving this research away from clinical trials seems to be taking forever for some reason though...

It's interesting. I was just consulting with a new doctor yesterday about my back pain. We went off on a tangent and he was telling me he knee was so bad with cartilage damage that it would hurt for over a month, leaving him limping, after attempting to run or play sports. He did some stem cell injections in his knee and it's all better now. Not sure how long ago he did that.

It's really cool technology. I can't wait to see where it goes in the next few years!

As I recall some of these techniques were used on race horses long before trying them on humans. Stem cell injections in particular I think. Thank the gamblers for that :)

I also know that in horses they routinely inject hyaluronic acid, which appears to be significantly beneficial. E.g. The horse limps in, and one day later the arthritis is gone. My mom always jokes that she should just do it for herself but it is not apparently approved for humans. She's been injecting many of he horses for 10+ years with it.

It is approved for humans actually. I had a hyaluronic acid injection my for knee injury. I didn't really notice that it did anything though. But I think it's generally supposed to help lessen the pain for cartilage damage that isn't a focal defect. Note that it doesn't do anything to improve the cartilage — it just helps the pain.

An interesting example of serendipity. Did the research done on horses help directly in developing solutions for humans?

This is rather odd. Knee cartilage damage is extremely common among athletes, so one would think that the treatment would be as well. But I've never heard of it used for professional athletes.

Speaking anecdotally, I've had 4 wrist surgeries over the past 5 years (coming up on my fifth next week). I've never once heard of the stem-cell injection treatment, despite having 3 surgeons and 9+ other consulting doctors. Did your doctor give you any papers to describe the procedures that made his knee "all better now"?

> But I've never heard of it used for professional athletes.

That's because stem cell therapy is not generally approved for use yet. It is still in the research stage. There was one company that did it for a while in Colorado, but nobody could really figure out whether they were legit or a scam, and the FDA ended up putting a halt on their stem cell injections.

It looks like it may be possible to grow new cartilage. I'm not sure if it's the low quality type you are referring to though.


I'm really hoping for a breakthrough within next few decades. I shredded the TFCC in my wrist to the point where I couldn't type because of the pain. Since that region is pretty much avascular, it couldn't be repaired. So they snipped what was hanging, and then shorten my ulna in order to reduce pressure while pronated when typing. I can type again, and do most activities, but I'll have issues in a few decades for sure.

You might want to look into AMIC for your knee.


I can posit one reason for it not getting through trials easily.

The technology isn't "hard" per say, nor is it patented. You can find doctors willing to do "prolotherapy" procedures for you today.

The problem arises with trying to study it. I assume that they do phase 1 trials for therapies like this, which means that they have to find healthy individuals willing to get bone marrow removed, and then get that injected into joint spaces. Not many people want to sign up for that study, unfortunately.

Interesting! Do you think this could be used to augment our capabilities beyond normal strength/fitness levels?

I started getting into weightlifting this past year, and doing deadlifts has always scared me.

I still do them, and try to do them with proper form, but it's always in the back of my mind that I might hurt my back due to the load.

Could you give me more detail on how you hurt your back? How heavy of a load was it? Was it during a deadlift?

It actually had nothing to do with deadlifts or bad form. I was working on my bench press and couldn't get the fifth rep up. I set the bar down on my chest and instead of calling out for help (to any of the fifty people standing nearby), I thought it would be less embarrassing to just roll it down to my knees and then stand up and set the weight down. Stupid decision. Once I got the weight to my knees, I severely underestimated my back-to-chest strength ratio and the weight plummeted to the ground, pulling my (arched) back down with it. I think it was about 215 lbs (97 kg).

The key to deadlifts is good form and not letting your back arch at all. I would recommend getting an expert trainer or an advanced lifter to help you practice your form if you are worried about it. It's worth the time to prevent an injury.

You should really use safeties when bench pressing. I just read about a guy who died doing a bench press when he lost control of the bar and it landed on his neck!


Man... I feel your pain.. been in the same situation a few times, but why not just shame-roll (drop the bar to one side and just sort of wriggle out from under it on the opposing side)? It sucks but keeps you safe.

not the person you're responding to but a lot of times people have clips on the weights at gyms

I was taught not to use a clamp on the bar when doing bench, so you can lean to one side and let the weights drop off if you get stuck.

Seems like questionable advice - sounds like a great way to accidentally drop a bunch of weights to the floor if you're at all uneven with your bar path (not at all unusual when fatigued).

Not only that, but even a little shift in the weights can cause problems with your lifts. Warmups (135 or so) I'll leave them off, but anything over 200 I'll put them on.

Then you really have to look out for the recoil as the suddenly-unbalanced bar whips around.

Bench press at any significant weight just flat-out isn't safe without a spotter.

My friend was a powerlifter. According to him, back injuries are far more common on the squat than the dead. It's somewhat counter intuitive, but the dead is generally quite safe.

You should always use good form and always have respect for the weights (don't get cocky), but maybe have a bit more respect for the squat :P

I recommend reading Anatomy Without a Scalpel.

DLs are complicated, but you'll see a lot more uniformity when you take your advice from people who are strong themselves.

Given that their methodology uses embryonic stem cells, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the US with opponent Tom Price as head of Health & Human Services.

> The stem cell procedure Kris received is part of a Phase 1/2a clinical trial that is evaluating the safety and efficacy of escalating doses of AST-OPC1 cells developed by Fremont, California-based Asterias Biotherapeutics. AST-OPC1 cells are made from embryonic stem cells by carefully converting them into oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), which are cells found in the brain and spinal cord that support the healthy functioning of nerve cells. In previous laboratory studies, AST-OPC1 was shown to produce neurotrophic factors, stimulate vascularization and induce remyelination of denuded axons. All are critical factors in the survival, regrowth and conduction of nerve impulses through axons at the injury site, according to Edward D. Wirth III, MD, PhD, chief medical director of Asterias and lead investigator of the study, dubbed “SCiStar.”

It's interesting that this article is months old (from September 2016) and is only now on the front page of HN. I suspect that it has something to do with our desire to argue the benefits of stem cell research to the new administration.

I certainly hope they listen, but I fear they won't. People opposed to embryonic stem cell research based upon religious beliefs aren't going to suddenly ignore what they believe to be instructions from their particular God, even if it has enormous benefits for society. I hope that Trump is more reasonable than that, but the hard-line pro-life stance he recently took through executive order doesn't make me optimistic that this kind of research will continue in the US during the next four years.

It's interesting that this article is months old (from September 2016) and is only now on the front page of HN. I suspect that it has something to do with our desire to argue the benefits of stem cell research to the new administration.

I continually find it depressing, distracting, and unuseful how quick some are to immediately attribute everything to overt politics. Why some submissions catch on when has so many variables. We're quick to see patterns, amplified by our own biases. Other than skywriting, I'm pretty confident that clouds aren't shaped to be animals or faces. The data for submissions is available via a couple APIs. If you want to ascribe politics as playing a role in this post making the top page now, you can try to back it up with some actual evidence and make your claim substantial.

An issue like embryonic stem cell research is inherently political in the US, both because it often requires government funding, and it contradicts the religious beliefs of many people. I don't think it is a stretch to assert that attention is being called to these kinds of advances right now at least in part because people are concerned about the future of such a politically controversial area of research under a new, somewhat unpredictable administration.

So this was not an attempt to "atttibute everything to overt politics". Embryonic stem cells, however, are an overtly political issue in the US.

If it's not a stretch, why mention it at all other than to muddy the waters by injecting additional politicization to the HN community? If it's worth mentioning in this case, it's worth backing up that it's substantially different from other posts on HN, which requires more than an opinion.

I was replying to a comment in which the author was pondering how the new administration will handle the political side of stem cell research. Look at the parent comment. Why did you not criticize that one for being political?

I read the parent comment prior to my first. 'neuronexmachina is discussing the topic at hand. Yes, it adds politics. That's going to happen on HN regardless. What their comment doesn't do is imply unfounded intentions upon HN community members. That's unhelpful. Some are all too quick to attribute agenda to particular behavior on HN, particularly submission ranking. Without evidence, it leads to bad faith in discussions, and with political topics to be discussed well and civilly, we need an abundance of good faith.

> What their comment doesn't do is imply unfounded intentions upon HN community members.

You seem to be exempt from this rule, however:

> why mention it at all other than to muddy the waters by injecting additional politicization to the HN community?

Do you see how you were ascribing unfounded and unproven intentions to someone else for their comment? Your claim that "obviously, they must have done it to muddy the waters" is the perfect example of precisely what you complain about.

I dont think I was being uncivil at all. It's rare that an older article becomes #1 on HN. You think that has nothing to do with the fact that an administration that many assume would have a problem with stem cell research took over less than a week ago? It seems very important to you that you win this argument, so I won't respond further, and I am certain you will get the last word in. But for the record, I think this entire thread of replies by you is nonsensical.

I never claimed you were uncivil. I am claiming that making assumptions regarding the behavior of HN members, particularly on political topics, creates an environment that leads to uncivil behavior. How rare is it for an older article to reach the top spot? That's a potentially interesting question that can be answered with available data.

There's no argument to "win". After my second comment, I responded to your question. As for "getting the last word in", I only do so to refute the idea that I said you were uncivil. You're right that this is far off-topic now, and likewise I won't respond further.

From what I've seen, it's fairly common for articles and posts of all ages to reach high slots on the front page, including the first slot

You don't have to believe in God to make the argument that an embryo is a developing human being who is therefore worthy of legal protection. There are plenty of secular pro-lifers. [1]

[1] http://www.secularprolife.org/

I suppose if your definition of "plenty" is different than mine, that you could be right.

Having said that, I have a hard time taking any anti-abortion group seriously (whether religious or not) which does not actually have an official position on rape.

What possible non-religious argument could there be made to force a woman to carry to term (and care for) the child of their rapist?

Dunno, lemme give it a shot:

First off, if a compromise can be found, that could solve the problem instantly - for example, if instead of abortion, a fetus could be removed and implanted safely in another woman, or in a laboratory, and brought to term, and there was a legal apparatus in place to ensure the child received care, that could eliminate the "killing" aspect of an abortion while preventing a woman from being forced to keep a rape-induced pregnancy to term.

That doesn't exist yet though, so, lemme try this, though I feel very dirty doing so:

If abortion is murder, then there's no legal justification in carrying it out because one is a victim of a crime, even if the abortion is a "solution" to one of the long-term effects of that crime (the rape). Just as one is not allowed to steal to replace stolen goods, one should not be allowed to "murder" an unborn child in response to a rape.

Well, you're not wrong, it's a pretty hard argument to make without bringing religion in.

If killing a person is murder, then there is no legal justification in carrying it out because one is a victim of a crime. Yet, in capital punishment cases, we go ahead and do so anyways.

There is also the religious assertion that in its present state, a zygote is a human being, yet, say, the biological matter that is removed from the body in a woman's period is not. I am not aware of an argument that does not hinge on the zygote being empowered by a magical soul.

Well, a zygote is a developing human being while a placenta is clearly not. You don't have to believe in a soul to think that all human beings -- regardless of their stage of development -- merit legal protection.

A pre-menopausal woman carries thousands of eggs. Are they all also not human beings? Does the average woman commit at least one murder a month? What about the nutrients that might be assembled into a human being?

Giving the 'undifferentiated mass of cells is clearly a human being' argument even a slight push very quickly devolves into absurdity.

They are not humans because they are not fertilized eggs. Unfertilized eggs are haploid, not diploid, meaning they are unpaired chromosomes (am ignoring X and Y). It also means they could not produce a living human... too many problems owing to the missing second chromosome in each pair. Is like having 25,000 gene deletions!

Some animals have a phenomenon called parthenogenesis which allows an unfertilized egg to develop into a living organism. This does not naturally happen in humans. (And I doubt it happens unnaturally.)

The biggest "murderer", using the definition of the religious people, is the "god" himself, as it is known that, biologically, many of the inseminated egg cells don't end up ever becoming babies, failing to attach to the uterus and getting ejected. Even many that attach don't survive long enough to develop, resulting in a natural "miscarriage" later. That's simply how the reproduction mechanisms work.

So why again should humans be punished when it happens all the time anyway "by design"?

> Well, a zygote is a developing human being while a placenta is clearly not.

In that case, pro-lifers should have no issues with a pregnant woman asking her doctor to remove her placenta - as long as they don't touch the zygote.

Wouldn't that equate to imprisoning someone but not providing them with food?

Or the equivalent of removing life support and having them die slowly and painfully, rather than simply administering an overdose of morphine. I do like that the issues blend at this point, though - removing the placenta is something I haven't considered. It would be legal because you can legally take someone off life support.

It seems to equate to imprisoning someone in the house of a very poor person who can only afford to feed themselves, and requiring that poor person to provide the prisoner with food, and then punishing the poor person when they refuse.

Do you prefer to force the mother to feed and host a parasitic child against her will? That's pretty uh...totalitarian.

Religion is the only place where you'll find people arguing that a zygote is a human, so I'll say it's impossible to make the argument without religion.

For a secular reference search "plead the belly".

That's a pretty bold claim that many disagree with.

Don't be shy: if it is so bold, why not explain why?

Feel free to present non-religious arguments that contradict the claim.

I'll bite.

Human life deserves protection. Human life starts at some point in time. Saying human life starts at birth (when the child leaves the womb), makes no sense. There is nothing unique about leaving the womb that infers humanity. There is nothing different between killing at newborn and killing a baby still in the womb who is past-due. Location doesn't infer something is a life or not.

So we need to find a better indication of when a human life begins. One could argue that if a child could live outside the womb, then it is a human life. Currently children commonly survive being born 26 weeks premature (3 months before being normally born). Again, killing a premature baby is no different than killing it in the womb. It's the same life.

Other believe that human life starts before that. Some believe that once the self-sustaining process of forming a baby starts (fertilization), then it's human life.

I'm not arguing for one or the other. However, I do understand why some people hold those beliefs.

The mother's life again gets zero consideration.

How about if we consider that she should not be forced to feed and carry a parasite against her will. It is risky, regularly including death and disfigurement. People love to talk about the right to life when they are referring to an innocent zygote but suddenly everything changes if the mother's rights are brought into it.

The argument is fairly straightforward if you accept -- as pro-lifers do -- that abortion constitutes the killing of an unborn child. Parents have a prima facie duty of care towards their children by virtue of the biological connection between parent and child, and this duty of care exists regardless of the circumstances of the child's conception.

This position in no way denies that rape is gravely immoral. It simply recognizes that the child is not responsible for the crimes of his father. The injustice of rape does not justify the additional injustice of abandoning or killing one's own child.

I think most people have no difficulty accepting this argument at least with respect to born children. Nobody would argue that infanticide, for example, is an appropriate response to rape. But there's no reason why the same logic doesn't apply before birth as well.

> It simply recognizes that the child is not responsible for the crimes of his father. The injustice of rape does not justify the additional injustice of abandoning or killing one's own child.

Yet the implicit argument here is that the injustice of rape DOES justify the additional injustice of forced pregnancy upon the victim. Pregnancy involves a profound set of changes to the body, not all of them temporary. I find it incredibly unjust that people are willing to argue that the rights of a handful of cells that will eventually become a human outweigh the rights of an inarguably human woman whose body was forcibly violated, by way of causing a second, 9-months-long forced violation of her right to control her own body. A concrete reminder of the rape that she cannot ignore because it's literally inside her and growing every day. It's despicable.

This is not to mention the lesser injustice of failing to provide her with any assistance during the pregnancy--she will need to consume more calories, will eventually find it difficult or impossible to perform her work duties until the child is born, etc. Where is that assistance provided for in all this legislation?

And for that matter, where are the appeals to the duty of caring for one's children when an adult with young kids is carted off to prison? Clearly there are circumstances in which that duty is superceded by some set of societal concerns. Why is conception by rape not one of them while some crime committed by a parent is?

A typical answer to this is to develop notions of a "moral community" and individuals that belong to it[1]. Those within the moral community can make certain basic claims, thus rights, on others within it such as a right to life. Depending on how you define membership within the moral community, you can make an argument that (early stage) abortion is permissible but infanticide is not.

[1]: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/g/gaskilld/ethics/abortion.htm

I rarely bring up nazis but this sounds like something that could have been fetched straight out of nazi Germany:

they had a number of programs for getting rid of unwanted individuals and actually not only forced people but also did public (IIRC) outreach to sell the idea to doctors and parents of severly disabled or otherwise unwanted kids.

(Long time since last I read about this but I think "aktion t4" and "Tiergartenstraße" is the thing to search for if anyone is interested.)

I don't think anyone disagrees with that. The question is at which point the embryo becomes enough of a human where its needs outweigh the needs of the parents.

That's really not relevant, it can be stipulated that life begins at conception and it simply doesn't matter, no persons right to life trumps another persons right to bodily autonomy. It's not murder to let someone die if you're the only bone marrow donor that could save their life and you refuse to donate and it's not murder to get an abortion; not all killing is murder, nor is all killing wrong. As long as the baby requires use of the mothers body to survive, it's right to life is secondary to her consent to carry it and that's true even if you give a fetus the full rights any other grown person would have. No grown person could demand their right to life is more important than your consent to your control your own body, even if your refusal kills them.

It's not murder to let someone die if you're the only bone marrow donor that could save their life and you refuse to donate and it's not murder to get an abortion

"One of those things is not like the other, one of those things..."

Not donating bone marrow requires doing nothing. Having an abortion require an active procedure.

> Not donating bone marrow requires doing nothing. Having an abortion require an active procedure.

True, but simply not relevant to any point I made. No metaphor is perfect, but the point here is that your control over your own body trumps another right to life. You wouldn't allow the government to forcibly take your bone marrow to save a life, and that's no different than being forced to carry a pregnancy to term against your will in regards to the point of bodily autonomy. Another persons right to life ends when it depends on someone else's body to live. The other person has a right to not consent to use their body against their will.

but the point here is that your control over your own body trumps another right to life

I think you need to refine that stance.

As a parent, I certainly don't have control over my own body. If I fail to provide the necessities of life for my child, I will go to jail and my kid will be taken from me. The gov't can (and will) force me to do certain things with my body.

Child neglect has nothing to do with your body. You are free to give up your child for adoption if you don't want to take care of them. Abusing a child and being punished for it isn't remotely similar to anything being discussed here. You're yet again deflecting from the point and attempting to setup a strawman.

The question is whether it ever does, and since (US, at least) domestic policy is to cut the social safety net and say "you're on your own" after a child is born, I'll take the "never" position. THat is, [US] government policy is that its needs outweigh the parents' only during gestation.

We have the technology to freeze viable embryos, right? If it's a question of balancing human lives, you could just freeze the removed embryos until a suitable parent or technology came along.

Wouldn't that solve the problem?

You can unsubscribe from both life/choice "camps" and realize the Supreme Court rationale that inadvertently created those reactionary groups simply doesn't fit our standards of judicial review any longer.

The whole case is on shaky legal ground without you having to take a stance on it!

Well considering how long the precedent has been in place and how it has been kept in place over multiple different courts, it seems to hold the status of "good law" no matter your opinion on the legal arguments themselves.

The real issue is that Congress has not wanted to try to push this issue no matter which side has control because it is so divisive. Since the harms to the women from leaving a patchwork system of laws in place are real, that just leaves the courts to fill in the vacuum as far as setting a national policy goes.

The Supreme Court makes rulings that are easy to comply with. Their job is to interpret things based on the constitution, in practice they weigh society's ability to stomach their rulings as well.

This is primarily the reason it hasn't been overruled, and its been close in times past! The "precedent" hasn't been in place that long as far as case law goes.

Check out a few of the dissenting opinions

Well, technically, our constitution only gives legal protection to those who are Citizens of the United States of America (or Citizens of some other country I guess). However, one must be born for them to be considered a citizen of the United States. Since an embryo is by definition unborn, the argument could be made that they are not worthy of legal protection.

And religious people have argued that ensoulment did not occur until after recognizable human fetal development. And, by the way, female ensoulment occurred significantly later than male ensoulment.

"Life begins at conception" is primarily a political construct.



"The Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus, since it holds that "human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception". From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.""

Well, you are correct for the modern church, but there is a history. The term quickening (sometimes animation) had various meanings from both secular (search for "plead the belly") and religious. Interpretations of Exodus also sometimes strayed into fetus having the features of a baby.

For the modern policy a search of the Vatican's excellent web server is probably the best source http://gsearch.vatican.va/search?q=abortion&btnG=Search+on&s...

The Church disproves you, quoting older texts, even from the second century of the Church:

See "Declaration on procured abortion, 18 November 1974," it can be thankfully found using your search:


"Athenagoras emphasizes that Christians consider as murderers those women who take medicines to procure an abortion" [(c. 133 – c. 190 AD) he was a Father of the Church, another author quoted is Tertullian c. 155 – c. 240 AD, moreover, Synod of Elvira, the fourth century, and on and on through the centuries...]

"In the course of history, the Fathers of the Church, her Pastors and her Doctors have taught the same doctrine - the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion. It is true that in the Middle Ages, when the opinion was generally held that the spiritual soul was not present until after the first few weeks, a distinction was made in the evaluation of the sin and the gravity of penal sanctions. Excellent authors allowed for this first period more lenient case solutions which they rejected for following periods. But it was never denied at that time that procured abortion, even during the first days, was objectively grave fault."

To repeat: "the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion."

> the Church disproves you, quoting older texts, even from the second century of the Church:

Only if you really didn't read what I typed. There is a history and there were different opinions in the church. Read the history of the Middle Ages and quickening.

The religious view of quickening is covered here:


"The Venerable Bede" "c. 725, upheld the 40-day distinction, prescribing a one-year penance for abortion before the 40th day" "After 40 days the penance was 71/2 years, the same as for homicide."

"English common law: Starting with Leges Henrici Primi, around 1115, abortion was treated as a misdemeanour prior to 'quickening', accruing a penalty of 3 years' penance, or as a 'quasi homicide' after quickening."

"Pope Gregory XIV," [1591] "pronounced that abortion before 'hominization' should not be subject to ecclesiastical penalties that were any stricter than civil penalties"

Etc. It supports again the Vatican's text which I've cited: "the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion."

If I've missed something and you have a counterexample I'd like to see it. Thanks.

I suppose for the later church St. Alfonsus Liguori would be a good starting point. Pope Gregory XIV was actually a relaxation of rules by Pope Sixtus V.

From the "Alphonsus Maria de Ligorio, Theologia Moralis":

"Question 4. Is it permissible to give a mother in extreme illness medicine to expel a fetus? Reply. Firstly, it is certain that it is not permissible for a mother outside of danger of death to take medicine for expelling even an inanimate fetus, since directly impeding the life of a human being is a grave sin, and a still graver one if the fetus is animate. It is certain, secondly, that it is not permissible for a mother even in danger of death to take medicine for expelling an ensouled fetus directly, since this would be procuring the child's death directly."

This quote of de Ligorio is on the Wikipedia page I've already posted here, in my first answer to which you replied. It still supports what Vatican wrote and I cited: "the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion."

Your own quote proves my original point, that there was debate in the church. I really don't get what the heck you think I said at this point.

Your reply to my quotation of Wikipedia's claim "the Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus..." at that point was:

"you are correct for the modern church, but there is a history..."

which I understood that you mean that there was a time in history when the Church didn't "oppose all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus," contrary to what it does as "the modern church." But going with you through the names you gave, there is no proof for such a claim. The Church always opposed and considered it "illicit" (which supports Vatican claims in its 1974 text).

If you agreed with my citations then I don't understand why you replied in a manner like I had used some wrong information?

If you agree that the Church did oppose (or considered "illicit") abortion from the conception through all the time of its existence (independently of different opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul) which is what Vatican claims and I quoted here more times, then we both agree. Moreover, my reply was to refute the statement "'life begins at conception' is primarily a political construct" with the proof that the Church was always against abortion starting from conception, that is, it can't be seen differently than other Church decisions like "what should constitute the Bible" and "is Jesus both of human and god nature." Which was never considered politics but religion. Thank you.

I said there was debate in the church, and your quotes actually prove that. Heck, just the Pope Gregory XIV vs Pope Sixtus V vs St. Alfonsus Liguori is enough to prove there was debate.

> "'life begins at conception' is primarily a political construct"

I didn't say that, I never said that, and I don't know where you got that from.

> False!


The Church opposes abortion using the same language and reasoning as they were using in opposition to birth control.

In addition, the Catholic Church has been very clear that this opposition does NOT rely on whether a fetus qualifies as life, human or ensouled and so sidesteps that whole issue.

So, we are back to "life begins at conception" being a political slogan, not a religious one.

See my other post here from almost an hour ago with the quotes spanning from the second century AD, ending with the "Declaration on procured abortion, 18 November 1974,"


I don't see how you can disprove it without the citations. The "all caps" words don't matter, the citations do.


> In relation to elective abortion, Pope John Paul II wrote about ensoulment in his 1995 encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae that:

> Throughout Christianity's two thousand year history, this same doctrine of condemning all direct abortions has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors. Even scientific and philosophical discussions about the precise moment of the infusion of the spiritual soul have never given rise to any hesitation about the moral condemnation of abortion.[17]

> While the Church has always condemned abortion, changing beliefs about the moment the embryo gains a human soul have led their stated reasons for such condemnation, and the classification in canon law of the sin of abortion, to change over time.[18][19]

Please note that Pope John Paul II is very clear that the two issues are separate.

Go take it up with the Pope.

I don't understand, your citation again supports my claim, not yours, and they are also consistent with my citations?

"Throughout Christianity's two thousand year history, this same doctrine of condemning all direct abortions has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors."

Your claim it's a "political concept" so how is a consistent condemnation by the Church during its whole existence of 2000 years a "political concept"? I understood your claim like it was something invented for the last few election cycles, and made because of the contemporary politics. And it's the opposite, it's the Church doctrine that through the 2000 years condemned abortion, in spite of the lives of the mothers involved.

To be just "a political concept" it would have to be a period where the Church did the opposite, which it never did?

Moreover, how is supporting the doctrine on the Father of the Church from the second century, as in my quotation, "political"?

Is for you then the doctrine of Christ being both human and divine, which was established later than in the second century, also political? The trinity, established in the fourth century, political? The selection of which books are part of the Bible, political?

If the Church selected what is a part of the Bible and what is not, and it did, you can't even claim "it's political because it isn't in the Bible" since it's the Church which decided what the Bible is going to be, so your approach would make the Bible just "a political concept" too. Finally, the Church itself (any Church) is "a political concept." The faith, too.

I, not being a believer, confirm that they are all human inventions. But all that is what is traditionally called, understood and lived as "religion" not "politics."

> People opposed to embryonic stem cell research based upon religious beliefs aren't going to suddenly ignore what they believe to be instructions from their particular God

OK. It may not go over well, but I'll make an appeal for tolerance and better characterization of the issues here.

Hypocrites and monsters aside, people don't just make up the god they want to have, at least not consciously. It's not like people say, "Hey, this guy has a cool beard and I like embryos, too! How do I get baptized? Now I win all my stem cell arguments, right?" That is, religious people don't go shopping for their God any more than LGBTQ people go shopping for their orientations.

Thinking that people take their prejudices and work backwards from there is, at a minimum, misunderstanding another philosophy and culture. I think it's rational to understand other ways of thinking, even if I disagree.

Except in America, people do shop around for religions. Something like half of people convert from one religion to another in their lifetime here [0]. It's also not uncommon for conservative politicians to adopt a more evangelical form of Christianity as a gesture to constituents. Someone as obviously atheistic as Trump even put on a meager show of doing this during the campaign.

And please don't conflate the basic humanity of LGBTQ people with the ideologies of people who consistently try to rob it from them. I grew up in a conservative Christian part of the Midwest and was routinely beaten and threatened by your run of the mill Christians for "seeming gay." What they did to actual gay people was even worse.

Of course people use religion to justify their prejudices - there's almost no reading of human history that would suggest otherwise. You can toss around some No True Scottsman nonsense about how that doesn't reflect the true values of Christianity, but until mainstream American Christianity walks away from all its hypocrisy and monstrosity, it's a distinction without a difference.


There's too much to unpack and critique in here, but No True Scotsman applies when people move categorical goalposts (to mix metaphors), it doesn't apply when talking about people who don't meet the basic tenets of their professed beliefs (hatred is evil).

I haven't been beaten for seeming effeminate, but I have been ridiculed and bullied for the same reasons. I don't decide to find which demographics about the bullies are salient (some were latino, some were athletes, are either of those fair game?) to form prejudices around.

More importantly, you misunderstood my core point:

> Except in America, people do shop around for religions.

I agree, but whether people shop or not, the existence of God is a factual question. It's either true or not. Same goes for a particular moral framework. Either it's true or not. We are all making our best bets on those dimensions. It's important not to judge, hate, outgroup, closet, ostracize, or despise because we happened to weigh available evidence and experiences differently.

In this specific case (to stay on topic), it's fair to criticize the science of whether embryos count as people. It's fair to discuss, philosophically, the benefits and drawbacks of using embryos in research. It's fair, again, to discuss whether we want corporate industries involved in embryo production to improve health outcomes.

I think we need better empathy and reasoning if we're going to act like bringing God into existence was a choice people made some day and could just as easily unmake. That's where there are very strong parallels with other justice issues like the treatment of people based on sexual orientation, immigration status, marital status, or mental health conditions.

As you noted, this story was posted months ago. According to STAT in a report published just a week ago, funding for stem cell research in California has essentially been squandered.[1] The issue isn't whether stem cell research can be done (it can)[2]. It's whether we should fund the research through taxes.

[1] https://www.statnews.com/2017/01/19/california-stem-cell-age...

[2] http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/07/justice/stem-cell-appeal/

If basic research is needed, better to push that forward than to squander the money shooting for the moon. They are shifting to clinical trials now, so we'll see how that works out.

Thankfully there is still Canada/EU/Australia on the cutting edge of stem cell and gene therapies. That said the Trump administration is likely to be a great blow to science overall, to be felt worldwide I would imagine.

This may be a bleak way to look at things, but the money the rest of the world will start making with this in the future will ensure that we eventually come around. Money wins over morals and ethics much of the time.

Meanwhile death and suffering will happen that could have been averted.

Or to put it in a stronger business-context, the money to be made here in the US will have been squandered by politics.

Because while there is a moral argument here, it's been thoroughly coopted by politicians using it to gain/keep power.

That's why medical tourism is a big and growing industry. Much like other political policies fruitlessly trying to end legitimate supply/demand as long as people want it there are always ways around it.

I'm sure any paralyzed person would easily take a $300 flight to Canada for the surgery.

The only risk is that the US has the highest amount of human scientific capital.

But much like the EPA thing that turned out to be overblown (according to multiple EPA reps who said the memo was routine and that Obama did much the same, without drawing the subsequent outrage) I'm going to wait until legitimate threats to stem cell research are made before I'm concerned.

This. On a more local scale (EU) medical tourism is huge. I know of many family members travelling a short distance to avail of much cheaper dental work abroad. In fact I am surprised this isn't advertised more.

Not to say that this research isn't ethical or moral. More that we'll eventually benefit from this.

Generally the well-educated believe it is ethical and moral research, but there's a vast swath of America that believe that it is unethical, either from a misunderstanding of how the research is done, or simply from a total moral objection to the research at all.

So you're right, but it's still an issue until we can solve the misinformation problem.

What misunderstanding do you think they have? Producing embryonic stem cells requires destroying an embryo. Yes, the embryos are mostly castoffs from fertility clinics and would likely be destroyed as medical waste anyway. But that doesn't matter one bit to people who believe embryos are human beings and deserve legal protection.

Yeah that is potentially true. Many of these types won't let morals or ethics get in the way of making money.

They just aren't too keen on spending money on the good of mankind however.

@cmdrfred I don't really know where is the best area to invest in, personally I prefer to just pay my taxes and have a government in place that either consists of or consults with the appropriate experts.

In Australia we are fairly lucky in this regard, our government is 'mostly' good, for some value of mostly at least. I'm not saying it couldn't be more efficient but definitely more efficient than research institutions needing to market to the broad public for funding.

Hello fellow Australian.

Tip: if you don't see a reply link on the comment you want to reply to try clicking on the time stamp link to the right of the commenters username, the reply comment box should then appear on a new page.


I didn't know it worked that way, that seems.. unintuitive to say the least heh.

I've not read any explanation as to why it is that way, only that it is. Such is life.

I believe there's a delay in place before you can reply to a reply to your own comment (presumably to force you to breathe a bit if you're potentially about to engage in a flame war).

Reply link does not appear straight away. In the time it took for you to read comments and click the specific link, enough time had passed so that the reply link was available

Luckily, I think this is one of those cases where investing in this particular field will be good for humanity _and_ profitable.

Hopefully not $900 Epi Pen profitable, though...

>They just aren't too keen on spending money on the good of mankind however.

What if they cut your taxes? Then you can spend your money on anything you think might benefit mankind instead.

That doesn't follow.

If the government cuts taxes but at the same time prohibits an activity I can't then use the money I've saved by paying less tax on that banned activity.

For some things it does work. I could spend the money on recreational drugs, for example, because they are available, however I don't personally know any stem cell therapy practitioners, nor any who are prepared to flout the law.

Edit: removed a word because it made a sentence ambiguous

I suspect the anti-science bit has more to do with approving Keystone/DAPL than some hard line policy.

If Balaji Srinivasan is confirmed for the FDA, I'd expect gene therapies and stem cell treatments to become more commonplace. After all, Balaji's first startup dealt with genetic testing.

What is more concerning is that the US might face a brain drain in the coming years, due to the visa ban from so-called "terrorist" states (funny how Saudi Arabia is conspicuously absent from that list...)

Step into any university Chemistry or Engineering building and it becomes very clear that the only reason the USA is still at the forefront of scientific advancement is because it has still convinced the highly educated of other nations that this is the place to be.

Remove the desire for the Chinese, Indian, and Russian engineers to try to study and work here, and you remove the USA's competitive advantage, and you give back all that talent straight to the USA's biggest competitors.

> you give back all that talent straight to the USA's biggest competitors

Or to Canada. The US isn't the only western country highly skilled workers emigrate to.

I consider Canada a US competitor.

EU is not consistent. I know Italy for example banned most of that type of research (because you don't want to make the Holy Father cry), whereas in UK it's still pretty liberal. I'm pretty sure other "holy" countries like Poland and Ireland also have very strict laws.

My cyberpunk education would point to the Far East as "the" place for this sort of thing to spring up unregulated.

As an American, one thing that really annoys me about the rest of the world is that, even though we only have 5% of the world's population, everyone (esp. in the rest of the industrialized nations) seems to expect us to be the leaders on everything, and then they get mad when we fail.

If Canada/EU/Australia think stem cell and gene therapies are important, along with things like climate science and any other kind of science, and we in the US are failing on these things thanks to our crappy voting, then why can't you guys pick up the slack? Personally, I'm not at all happy about the prospect of what's going to happen to science funding here real soon. But that doesn't excuse all these other advanced economies from doing their part too. The rest of you should be trying to take the lead on these things, if not many more things, esp. when we so obviously screw up.

The one moral problem I might have with procuring stem cells from newborn infants (and it's not religious), is they get it from the placental cord - and new research shows that leaving the placental cord on the baby until it falls off is the best practice. You can lose valuable blood by cutting it off.

Despite all the cynicism, there are still wonderful things about good old medicine and science.

90 days! Paralysis to utility!

Is someone going to tell me something like: oh, the nerve wasn't completely severed so recovery might have happened anyway?

Well, go ahead, but in the meantime I am enjoying this news.

Well said. HN often tends toward cynicism and nitpicking. But this result can act a sign of hope for countless paralyzed people.

Good news -- pure and simple. :)

There has been a lot of uplifting news coming out of stem cell and gene therapy the last couple of days. :)

Even if this is but one small step towards wider treatment, this is worth taking a moment to be happy and thankful for. You know that this patient is!

Here is the December 14 2016 update to that story: http://keck.usc.edu/stem-cell-therapy-gives-paralyzed-man-se...

And further information from a few days ago:


Looks like a second group of people is getting treatment with a higher dosage. The results of that will definitely be of interest to many. :)

Stem cells are showing more and more promise. One thing we know about them is that young stem cells are better than old ones. I think there is a lot of promise in stem cell banking.

I haven't pulled the trigger yet, but do plan on banking my own stem cells while I'm in my early 30's because parts of me will inevitably start to break down in the coming decades, and I really like the idea of tapping my own young cells when I am old to heal some of that.

The only company I know of that is doing this is Forever Labs, https://www.foreverlabs.co/, I am not associated with them, I just think they are on the right track with stem-cell banking and have spoken to one of the founders and was pretty excited about what they were doing and think its something worth supporting, which is why I'm writing this comment.

Thanks for this. I had no idea that young cells were better, even if that may seem obvious. I had to dig, but the price is $7000 for the procedure and lifetime storage or $3500 and then $250 per year for storage. Maybe competition in this could reduce the storage costs.

Ya, it is a bit steep. I'd love to see more options for this as well (especially here in Canada, where I don't believe there are any yet...)

In my country it costs about $1000 for procedure and $200 per year for storage, so it's very unlikely for storage to be much cheaper than now.

I wonder if there are ways to reconstruct stem cells from our DNA, so that we could build them from scratch.

We banked the embryonic stem cells and cord blood from our child's umbilical cord. There are a few companies that offer these services; we went with CryoCell (no affiliation).

The patient's age being twenty-one may have made a difference in this happy news story. My dad had a slip and fall on ice at age seventy-two that left him paralyzed from the chin down until he died six years later. He had had a similar injury from a car crash (back when cars didn't have seat belts) at age eighteen, from which he recovered fully (although he wasn't so paralyzed from the first injury). So when he had his second injury, he at first thought he would also recover from that injury. Maybe because the second injury aggravated damage to his spine still remaining from his first injury, or maybe just because he was a lot older when injured the second time, he never recovered much at all from the second injury. His experience reminds me how many other people in a family are affected by spinal cord injuries, and thus how important it is to find better treatments for them.

So it's hard to say how wide a range of patients will be treatable with the new technique, but that's what medical research is for: to find out what helps for which patients. I hope further research continues on this and other treatments for spinal cord injuries.

Can somebody explain the stem cell therapy to a complete laic like myself? I don't mean links to science articles, I mean a description you would attempt projecting at me if we were having a beer.

For me the stem cells are some sort of a magical Wolverine regeneration sauce. Never understood why they even work.

They are some sort of magical wolverine regeneration source. When you have a fertilized egg the first thing it does is start multiplying. But once you have a little cluster of cells they start making decisions (using bits of DNA to communicate) about what they should turn into - a skin cell, a bone cell, a brain cell or whatever. The trick with stem cells is to harvest them and keep them on ice just before they start making decisions. Then you transplant them into an injured body and they're all like 'hey ho, looks like I'm surrounded by nerve cells here so I'm gonna be a nerve cell too' (if you injected them into a spinal column) or 'woot, looks like I'm in a community of liver cells, I'm gonna turn myself into a liver cell' etc. etc.

The biggest problem is that you'd like a whole tank of stem cells that you could dip some injured person into and have them come out fully repaired, but getting stem cells to multiply without turning into anything in particular is a challenge so we have to cultivate them in very small quantities and it's relatively slow and expensive to do that.

I'll have a pilsener, please.

There is also research in progress to regress a more-differentiated cell back into a state similar to less-differentiated cells.

Essentially, rather than stopping the cells from making "what I want to be when I grow up" decisions, you're taking a grown-up cell and forcing it to forget all the decisions that its predecessors ever made. It's a bit more difficult.

In general, those decisions are recorded on the nuclear DNA by "tagging" it with methyl groups, like customizing a dictionary by using paper clips to bond together the pages that are least frequently accessed. You can look up the words you frequently need much faster, but you lose the ability to look up anything else in the clipped-together pages.

If you take one of those dictionaries, and remove all the paper clips, it's back to being a completely generalist reference, almost just like a new dictionary, that had never been customized in the first place. The most notable difference is that the old dictionary might have accumulated some damage over the years.

Furthermore, there is a differentiation hierarchy. Some cells only make a few decisions. So even if you can't suck fresh stem cells out of embyros or umbilical cords, there is the possibility that you could liposuction some adipose tissue, separate out the least-differentiated cells, and inject them into other tissues. Those cells could possibly repair bone, cartilage, and ligaments. Or you could crack open baby teeth, or suck out bone marrow, and produce different types of cells. With nerve cells, though, you're out of luck, because there's really no reservoir of cells that can be harvested.

So you take some of those liposuctioned fat cells, chemically treat them to remove all the clips from their respective dictionaries, and try to make them switch to nerve cells by attaching new clips to different pages. Those cells will be cells with your own DNA, but it might just be old, damaged DNA that can't make certain proteins correctly any more.

You'd get a cask of Pilsener for this explanation. Thanks a lot! Yours is a very approachable description.

Can someone give ELI5 explanations for two more questions?

(1) Your body has to create brand new stem cells for your baby, right? Why can't we do this same procedure in the lab?

(2) When stem cells are injected, how much does it matter if it's your own stem cells, a relative's stem cells, or a random person's stem cells?

So the stem cells grow into new nerve cells, and somehow grow all the way through the body to replace the damaged cell? Or perhaps they grow a short nerve cell that connects the two halves of a damaged cell? It sounds like some funky hit-and-miss wiring.

Yes, stem cells can travel through the body.

Our adult cells communicate with their immediate neighbors through some pretty complex chemical signalling, and stem cells are receptive to that. It's one of the reasons stem cells are able to cooperatively develop from one single cell into a complex multi-cellular organism. Each stem cell carries the complete blueprints for a human being, it just needs to access and activate them based on the signals from it's neighbors.

In fact, pregnant mothers have been found to have fetal stem cells in their blood stream, which target areas of injury and are thought to be repairing them, even within the brain.

As an aside, it should be noted that all cells carry the complete blueprint for a human being. The open question for a long time was whether it would be possible to push adult cells 'back' in time to a state where they could become another type of cell. Thanks to the work of tenacious scientists, we know that the answer is yes! It can be done. Methods have been discovered to coax already differentiated cells to become pluripotent. That is, adult cells that are already of a specific 'type' have been reprogrammed to become stem cells.

I in no way intend this to be an argument against embryonic stem cells. I just find it to be extraordinarily interesting and an intriguing avenue for further development.

More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_pluripotent_stem_cell

Thanks for the ELI5!

The trick is also making sure they don't get too excited and build a tumor, which would make things really bad.

But yeah, they're almost magic, except we understand it. Which is probably why large sectors of the religious public finds them so abhorrent: they take away yet another arrow from the inscrutable Fate they worship, they lift another bit of veil from the mystery of our existence. And it's a shame, because the objective need for strict regulation will be hampered by constant calls for pointless bans.

> But yeah, they're almost magic, except we understand it. Which is probably why large sectors of the religious public finds them so abhorrent: they take away yet another arrow from the inscrutable Fate they worship, they lift another bit of veil from the mystery of our existence.

No, that's completely and totally not it. Folks oppose embryonic stem cell research because they believe both that embryos are human beings and that innocent human beings should not be killed. That's it.

Note that Mr. Bush continued to fund adult stem cell research, and continued to fund research on existing stem cell lines; what he didn't do was continue to fund the destruction of more embryos.

You may disagree with the idea that an embryo is a human being, and you may disagree that innocent human beings should not be killed, but you mayn't be uncharitable to your opponents.

Really? Religious people, under it all, just don't like unveiling mysteries with science? It couldn't be that they don't like treating human embryos as commodities?

As a computer scientist, I have no expertise in it. But my understanding is that a stem cell is an 'undifferentiated' cell. It hasn't been 'programmed' yet, to tell it what it should grow into. And as such, can grow into any type of cell in our body. I just don't know how we actually tell it what to grow into.

For instance, as an embryo, you start as a single cell, it divides, eventually some of those cells need to start specializing, but until then they all have the potential to be any type.

From my understanding, stem cells are like cells that have not picked a specialty yet. So they can become the cells necessary to repair a damaged area once they are introduced.

It's exciting to know that paralysis will be a thing of the past in potentially our near future. Deafness/Blindness/Cancer/etc all benefits from these studies.

It says it is a clinical trial, but I can't find the actual study, only another press release:


We really need to wait until the clinical trial publishes its results to know whether or not the treatment works. This person might have recovered naturally without any treatment.

It looks like a randomized trial hasn't started yet.

Are you sure? It says "The first early data results from a group of patients in this study will become available on September 14, 2016."

One really important caveat here-- nature abhors a vacuum, and spinal cord injuries are no exception. A chronic injury to the spinal column will result in scar tissue coming in over the wound, which is a totally separate issue from the initial injury. If your spinal cord injury is over a month old, you have a completely separate problem, ie, how to clear out the scar tissue so that nerve regeneration is even possible.

Odd comment - what's neat to me about this article on HN is that nobody has said "clickbait" or misleading title. That this kind of title can represent reality shows what amazing times we live in.

The level of medical awesomeness is off the charts - so many people can now start to hope for not just a better life, but a radically better life.

I know that directly correlating a recovery with a specific therapy is really hard to do. There have been many stem cell studies like this in the past which have shown similar seemingly miraculous results, even though it's not entirely certain whether the patient would have recovered otherwise or if something else was responsible. Paralyzed people inexplicably regain motor control all the time. I'd be curious to know how rigorous the study was in regards to control.

Meanwhile, 9 years ago in China, people were already receiving this kind of therapy, but nobody believed them[1]. As Gibson has said, "The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed."


In my country (Ukraine) stem therapy was used first in 2005 to recover broken bones. Now it used frequently to recover wounded soldiers (they already helped dozens of soldiers with astonishing results, like in article).

Article (in Ukrainian) on reputable journal about soldier and private clinic: http://texty.org.ua/pg/article/editorial/read/60482/Klitynna...

Clinic (English site): ttp://www.ilaya.com/tissue-regeneration/


Page at charity fund about project (in English): http://www.peoplesproject.com/en/biotech/

(Not a scam. They are frequently in our local news. Even Bloomberg and Guardian have articles about them: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/24/crowdfund... )

I also remember reading, in China, poorly executed stem cell therapy had lead to tumours in some patients. I think there is some merit to a more cautious approach.

It's crazy how arrogant a little knowledge can make some people, as seen in that Reddit thread.

I don't think wanting reasonable evidence before believing that a medical procedure works and works safely is the same thing as arrogance.

Yeah, wanting reasonable evidence before believing in the casual relationship between two events is fair.

But in this case, the Redditor can't provide scientific proof, because he's a layman. What he can provide is evidence that he couldn't walk, received stem cell treatment, and then could walk.

90% of the top level comments effectively said "No, impossible, there must be some other reason that you can now walk". That is to say, they feel that because there's no evidence that it's possible, it's impossible until scientists prove that it is possible. Well no, that doesn't make sense and it isn't usually how things work. These people's small amount of knowledge of the scientific method has caused them to arrogantly discredit potentially real phenomenon.

What's interesting is that one of the main top level comments which says "wow, I had a feeling this would be possible" is from an actual stem cell researcher.

I looked at that thread, and the non-negative-score comments seem to range from credulous to reasonably skeptical, with none that are fairly characterized as "No, impossible!"

In fact, given how sketchy the poster of that thread was being (e.g. linking to his non-medical blog when asked for medical details and saying he's too embarrassed to talk about it when asked again), I'd say people were pretty generous.

After an accident such as this, is there a point at which it's too late to perform this type of injection? Asking for someone in a similar situation.

The article says that this study requires the patient to be stable enough for an injection 13-14 days post-injury. That's not to say we know it wouldn't help, but that's what this study is looking for.

I believe the same article was already posted here a few months back. Regardless, it would be interesting to know how much functionality this young man will gain after his rehabilitation. Stuff like this is hard to believe to be 100% effective, at least at this stage of our understanding and use of stem cells. But man this is absolutely astounding if it helps him regain even like 30% of his limbs.

Congrats! I feel so happy for this guy. Awesome news!

I remember an earlier article highlighting the potential benefits of olfactory stem cells for damaged brain tissue repair.

Engraftment of human nasal olfactory stem cells restores neuroplasticity in mice with hippocampal lesions


Could this possibly lead to a cure for neuro-degenerative diseases like parkinson's and ALS?

Could stem cell therapy be used to potentially improve existing muscular or neurological connections in normally functioning individuals? Kind of like a whole-body neurotropic.

I think that's not currently clear, I'd expect technologies such as CRISPR to have a far greater impact on enhancement of "normal" honestly. Some brain diseases are caused by the overriding of nuerons, so more is not necessararily better, for example.

Note that this was published several months ago, in September 2016. So if this news sounds familiar, that's probably why.

Is there a greatly increased risk for cancer from stem cell use given these are cells that have a high rate of proliferation?

Maybe, but for most people cancer in the future vs being dead or paralyzed now is an easy decision. I'm not aware of such an elevated risk, just saying that it would be an acceptable trade-off in many circumstances.

The follow-up article mentioned by another poster (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13494463) mentions cancer as a risk of the treatment.

Amazing, stem cell therapy has so much potential.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact